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FBI caught in Pak raid row

Islamabad, Jan. 16 (Reuters): Islamic clerics in Pakistan asked police today to register a complaint against FBI agents for carrying out raids on their seminaries to hunt for al Qaida suspects.

But Pakistani police described as “baseless” the allegations by the clerics and several witnesses that the raids took place.

“There is no proof that any raid took place or there were foreigners involved in a raid,” Kaleem Imam, senior superintendent of police in Islamabad, told Reuters. Pakistan denies that the FBI is involved in raids on the homes of Pakistani suspects, despite numerous witness accounts to the contrary.

The clerics insisted that a mosque and seminary were raided and that foreign agents were present.

“I demand that a FIR be registered against these people because they were from the FBI,” said the application from Abdul Razzaq Haideri, prayer leader of Abdullah bin Masood mosque in Islamabad.

Haideri said in his complaint seen by Reuters that his mosque was raided at about midnight yesterday. Hardline Islamic parties have been deeply angered by frequent reports about the involvement of FBI agents in raids on suspected Islamic militants in Pakistan.

The six-party Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal Islamic coalition staged nationwide protest rallies earlier this month against the US and the threat of war on Iraq. They also criticised the role the FBI had in Pakistan in hunting suspected terrorists.

In a separate incident cleric Maulana Fida Mohammad said he was asleep when a raid took place late on Monday at his seminary and that his cook was taken away by the authorities.

“I saw there were some (people) of reddish colour who were speaking English, and others who were translating for them,” Mohammad said, explaining that they were asking questions about al Qaida and Arabs.

Khaista Gul, the cook, said he was unable to see any faces because he was blindfolded, but heard people talking in English.

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